You've seen the offers: promises of untold riches for just a few moments spent filling out a brief online survey. You've probably never bothered to click these ads, assuming they're too good to be true. The truth is, while online surveys won't bump you into a higher tax bracket, they aren't a bad way to make a few extra bucks—as long as you make sure you sign up with trustworthy sites. To make your quest for extra cash a little bit easier, we've compiled a list of the best paid survey sites.
Swagbucks is a popular site for making extra money. It offers a variety of ways to earn cash beyond taking surveys, like watching videos and playing games. The site also occasionally hands out free rewards points (they're called SBs) just for being a member. You'll get these SBs for each survey you participate in, and you can redeem them for cash via PayPal or gift cards. You also get $5 just for signing up and taking your first survey!
VIP Voice offers a wide variety of surveys that tend not to be as time consuming as other sites, and like Swagbucks, they reward you with points you can redeem for cash or gift cards. Penny Hoarder reports that with VIP Voice, "You'll have no trouble earning an extra $30 this month with almost no work."
Survey Junkie offers a well-designed, efficient website. The "cashout wheel" keeps you updated on your earnings and keeps you motivated to keep taking surveys. The surveys don't take long too complete and reward you with points. Once you earn 1,000 points, which is equivalent to $10, you can cash out.
Ipsos is one of the world's largest market research companies. They often partner with Reuters to assemble surveys about Congress, the sitting president, and other aspects of U.S. politics. Ipsos i-Say is the company's online survey rewards sector, where you can earn points for answering surveys. Unlike some of the others on this list, Ipsos i-Say only does surveys and market research.
Inbox Dollars is a little bit different than your classic survey site, offering opportunities to earn cash (no confusing point systems) by shopping online, watching videos, answering surveys, fulfilling offers, and clicking on links in emails (you don't have to sign up for anything, but you earn more if you do).
With some paid survey sites, your earnings are as small as a penny per email clicked or a dollar per 20-minute survey, but if you routinely visit these sites—maybe while watching TV or during downtime at work — the earnings can add up and help supplement your monthly income.
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.